By Frank Lewis
September 24, 2013
PDT Staff Writer
The salary of the executive position for the city of Portsmouth will nearly double when Derek Allen takes over as city manager in January. President of Portsmouth City Council Steve Sturgill said the city will pay Allen $105,000, up from the $59,600.
“There will be no cost to the city for his pension pickup. He’ll be paying that all by himself,” Sturgill said. “He will receive a $250 a month car allowance. He will receive the same benefits every other city employee does. And he will receive an immediate two weeks of vacation, simply because he had a previous engagement he had planned for overseas which he was not able to get out of - something to do with church. He was leading the congregation somewhere overseas and we thought that was in our best interest to let him attend.”
Sturgill said he believes that vacation is set for some time in June.
“The other item is that there will be a pre-employment drug screening,” Sturgill said. “We spent quite a bit of time with Mr. Allen trying to work the details of his contract out, and to be very honest with you, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it might be.”
Allen walks into a situation in which Portsmouth finds itself in a budget deficit nursing a fiscal watch status from the Auditor of State’s Office, and at a time when the city’s audit report has been released showing some other deficits.
“Mr. Allen was very receptive to come to Portsmouth. He understood the limitations of what our financial issues are,” Sturgill said. “Even with that his salary is quite high compared to what we had. One of the things I have said over the course last year, and the concerns I’ve had over the course of last year, that we were going to double the cost of the executive position, and we have done that. It’s going to be a concern. We’re going to have to try to find money and a way to make sure this doesn’t hurt our continuing financial issues.”
Sturgill said that issue is something City Council talks about and understands they need to proceed properly to find a solution.
City Council was expected to give first reading to the resolution hiring Allen Monday night, that did not happen.
“To be very honest with you I don’t know what happened,” Sturgill said. “We worked on the contractural agreement. We obviously have an agreement in principle to hire Mr. Allen, and I was under the impression that it was taken care of last week, but we obviously have had a small breakdown in communication. There’s no reason for it. It should have been ready for this evening.”
Sturgill said his original understanding was that the resolution was going to go through the Mayor’s Conference agenda, but was told three days ago there would be no Mayor’s Conference Monday night.
“My plan was to bring the ordinance to the meeting tonight, put it on the agenda and we would have a first reading,” Sturgill said. “That didn’t happen. So we’ll proceed to Plan B and hopefully we’ll have it on the next Council agenda and, again, give it the appropriate three readings.”
Sturgill said moving through the three readings will take six weeks, which he says will give them plenty of time to implement the plan for Allen to take the new position.
In November of 2011, Portsmouth voters decided to change the form of government from the strong mayor form to Council/City Manager form, which set in motion a search for someone to fill that position in January of 2014. Council formed a search committee, and hired Catherine Parrish of Novak Consulting to handle the applications. At one point, President of Council Steve Sturgill said the company had received 59 applications.
That number was whittled down to three, Patti Bates from Williamsburg, Ohio and Steve Golnar of Rawlins, Wyoming. Over a three-day period, Council met with the candidates, then announced they had chosen Allen for the job.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.